Professional learning experiences aren’t singular, calendar events with products and finite finish lines–they’re starting lines to ongoing processes in our learning journey.

I’ve experienced an incredible amount of personal and professional learning in the last ten days. Each experience has pushed my thinking, challenged my status quo, and widened my perspective. In fact, if there were a #HamstraHighlights reel, nearly every moment was personally special, meaningful, and applicable enough to make the Top Ten.

But I can feel that I’ve reached my limit–for now. My mind’s garden is saturated. My newfound learning sediments will erode with runoff, never having had the chance to take root in aquifers of abundant groundwater, blossom into fruition, or reproduce new ideas–that is–if I’m not intentional to fertilize those seeds right now.

Y’all–I’m exhausted.

Mentally, I’ve come to a place where my processing can’t keep up with my experiencing. I’m worried that if I don’t intentionally schedule time to reflect, then my last ten days will be suspended in time simply as that–my last ten days–events to be merely forgotten as life’s rapid currents sweep me away to the next big thing.

Now I know that others are busier than me, (and I’ve been busier than this several times throughout my life and career), but this isn’t a contest about who’s the busiest or who works the hardest or who loves their job the most. It’s not about the quantity of items to check off the To-Do List. It’s about investing in the follow-through and the follow-up to enhance and live out the quality of professional learning over time.

It’s about multiplying opportunity.

It’s about enriching, extending, and getting the most out of your learning journey.

Some call it a return on investment. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, like compound interest. I call it reflection over time. Could we all call it learning? After all, how authentic is any learning experience without personal reflection and meaningful application and extension? What are we doing with our learning? What do my newly learned concepts and skills look like in action?

I’d wholeheartedly argue that if we don’t eventually and ultimately convert our learning into application and action, then we’ve missed it. We’ve missed incredible opportunities to grow in meaningful ways.

The value in any learning opportunity lies not just in the experience alone, but in the reflection upon that experience.

“John Dewey is quoted on having said, ‘We do not learn from experience; we learn from reflecting on experience.’ Reflection… should be a regular part of both student and educator practice (Couros, 2015, p. 112).”

The more time that passes after each experience, the farther away my mind wanders.

Don’t wait. While the embers are still warm, stoke the fire. Fan into flame those moments that transformed a soundbite into a mantra, a conversation into a connection, an acquaintance into a mentor, an event into an experience, a destination into a journey, and a finish line into another starting line.

The calendar dates have passed. The events have been experienced. The seeds have been planted.

I’m taking this moment–of many more moments to come–to reflect, fertilize, grow, apply, and extend my professional learning experiences.

New starting lines await…

November 1-4: ASCD Conference on Educational Leadership

November 6: Researching & Voting in the Midterm Elections

November 7: Leading My School’s First Equity Team Meeting

November 8: Presenting at Coaching Digital Learning Institute

November 9: Celebrating Our Son’s 1st Birthday

November 9-10: Attending The Racial Equity Institute